There is no shadow of doubt that Xavi Hernández is one of the greatest players to ever put on a Barcelona jersey. We learned to love him over the years, because he was the guy who played Barça-style and made it cool. Every single manager who worked with him used him as the key piece on their scheme, building a structure around Xavi's ability to orchestrate the offense, move the ball from side to side, create opportunities, score, and lead his team.
After two decades of brilliance, Xavi somehow wasn't himself last season. We don't know if it was just a physical thing. It was clear that Xavi's body said "enough, dude, we can't handle it anymore", and his level of play started to go on a downward spiral since January. The touches and passes that once found guys in clear position to score were not there anymore. The box-to-box master who would defend and create easily now found himself unable to run the whole pitch without getting tired very quickly. Things were not easy and smooth like they once were. This Xavi looks very different.
So, as the season ended, rumours started to grow about the possibility of Xavi leaving this summer. The initial rumours said that he could move to England to play in the Premier League, but those were quickly buried. Then, there were talks about a transfer to Manchester City's MLS franchise, New York City F.C., and those are still going on.
Now, there is a strong offer from Qatar's Al Saad, and Xavi is reportedly interested. The wages are allegedly up to £10 million a year, and Xavi would play in a 6-month league without a lot of traveling and training. What has also allegedly interested him about the offer is the possibility of becoming a coach in Al Saad's younger teams.
But he is determined to stay at Barça, and his future depends on a conversation with the team's new manager, his former teammate, Luis Enrique. Xavi wants to see if Lucho really trusts him and wants him to stay and help the younger talent, and also have the opportunity to compete one more year. If Xavi feels confident about Lucho's plans for him, he's staying.
Now, here's the question: should he stay? We know how important he was to Barça during all these years, and how respected he is by the players, coaching staff and front office. His legacy will live forever, and we'll never forget what Xavi has done for Barça. Although it would be really tough to see him leave, that would probably be the best decision.
Xavi is 34, and we've seen how hard it has been for him to play the way he used to. Unfortunately, we watch such a physically demanding football now, and it becomes harder and harder to have a player like Xavi, who from now on would survive just because of his brain, but that is probably going to hurt the rest of the team.
Also, Lucho does not seem to really count on Xavi's recovery, and he appears to be moving on. He asked for Sevilla's star Ivan Rakitic, and it looks like the deal is done. Atlético Madrid's Koke is also a target, but his signing is kind of a dream.
Still, the new Barça regime is clearly not couting on the old guys, waiting for them to have some miracle recovey. They are moving on, looking ahead and trying to replace the people who once were irreplaceable.
That's a tough thing in life. There comes a time where everybody becomes replaceable, no matter how difficult it is to accept it. It seems like that's the case with Xavi. If he stays, awesome. If he leaves ... well, we should be ready for that.
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